Electric cars won't be an affordable option for New Zealanders until 2020, says an expert.
Canterbury University electrical engineering researcher Dr Allan Miller says it will be a while yet before we see a proliferation of electric cars in the New Zealand market.
Dr Miller's research has found that while adopting electric vehicles could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, they're still too expensive for Kiwis.
Electric vehicles have the lowest operating cost per kilometre of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles, said Dr Miller.
However, they still have a limited driving range and recharging time, which can only be addressed by improved technology and infrastructure.
Said Dr Miller: "The only real solution is to wait until the markets and manufacturers in other countries drive the prices down through improved technology and the economies of scale.
"Despite all the interest and excitement around electric vehicles, New Zealand will have to wait. We are simply not able to decrease prices or encourage uptake in an efficient and affordable manner."
The cost of the battery system in electric vehicles is expected to drop below an affordable level around 2020, said Dr Miller.
"This will result in these vehicles reaching near price-parity with standard vehicles and consequently increasing market volume,'' he said.
Dr Miller said even if electric vehicles were to become more affordable now, it could take 50 to 100 years to replace the current stock of about 2.6 million private vehicles in New Zealand.
Despite hybrid vehicles being in New Zealand for about 10 years and offering considerable fuel savings, Dr Miller said they only made up 0.2 per cent of the New Zealand fleet in 2012.